Cain's Redemption

June 12, 2015

Cain’s Redemption is the remarkable history of one of America’s most infamous maximum-security prisons, Louisiana State Penitentiary, colloquially known as Angola.

It is a remarkable story for a great many reasons.

It is a window into an unfamiliar realm, that of a prison whose inmates have practically no chance of ever being freed, in a society where life means life. It offers a glimpse of death row and the human emotions surrounding execution. It gives insight into the dangers, trials and struggles of managing a massive complex housing thousands of dangerous, convicted criminals. It illustrates the judicial system in America and maps the delicate line between incarceration and rehabilitation at the coalface. All these would be reason enough to read this book.

However the greatest excitement and interest in this book is the revelation of God powerfully at work amidst the prison population at Angola. The book has as its central character Burl Cain the prison warden, a man of unshakable faith. A man who sees his role at Angola as not merely a job but as a divine appointment to give these inmates a chance at moral rehabilitation and hope through faith in Jesus Christ.

The book is full of human interest, amazing testimonies of how God has been at work in the lives of formally notorious inmates. The book is brimming with stories of escape, hostage situations and man management examples. It is a book about redemption and it is a book brimming with grace and forgiveness. This book stiffened my resolve, reminding me of the power of the gospel, the inexhaustibility of grace and the sanctifying power of the Spirit to transform lives.

"This has become a new penitentiary - God is working mightily in this place, in a miraculous way. The mentality at Angola today is different. Hideous crimes, premeditated murders, and wilful crimes are largely a thing of the past/ Corruption and violence are being shoved out. Education and rehabilitation are coming in. God's Spirit is moving in this place." - Eugene Tanniehill "The Bishop of Angola" - 45 years through a life sentence at Louisiana State Penitentiary.

I cannot recommend this book enough.